Allergy and Asthma

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Allergy and Asthma

written by Jennifer Nelson Written by Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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reviewed by Renee Rulin, MD, MPH Reviewed by Renee Rulin, MD, MPH
Renee Rulin, MD, MPH

Renee Rulin, MD, MPH

Dr. Rulin is a Board Certified Family Physician with experience treating adults and children of all ages. She completed a residency at Brown University and received a Masters in Public Health from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Rulin enjoys being outdoors as much as the New England weather will allow, enjoys reading and cooking, and practices yoga and meditation.

May 4, 2022 Read Time - 6 minutes

Allergies and Asthma: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment of Allergic Asthma

Did you know that allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma? Of the more than 25 million Americans who have asthma, about 60% are affected by allergic asthma.

Read on for more information about allergies and asthma. Learn about allergic asthma causes, symptoms, treatment, and more.

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What Is Allergic Asthma?

Asthma is a breathing disorder characterized by airway inflammation and recurrent episodes of breathing trouble. These episodes are often referred to as asthma attacks. When an asthma attack is triggered by inhaling allergens such as pollen, dust mites, cigarette smoke, or pet dander, this is called allergic asthma.

Allergic Asthma Symptoms

Allergic asthma often appears with the same symptoms as other kinds of asthma, such as:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Trouble sleeping due to coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath

Individuals with allergic asthma may also experience

  • Stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Skin rash 

More severe asthma symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Not being able to speak in complete sentences
  • A bluish tint on the lips
  • Feeling out of breath, even while lying down

What Causes Allergic Asthma?

An allergic reaction begins in the immune system, which protects us from invading organisms that can cause illness. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This substance is called an allergen. Allergic asthma is caused by inhaling an allergen, which can trigger asthma symptoms.  Common allergic asthma triggers include:

  • Pet dander
  • Cockroaches
  • Mold spores
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Tobacco smoke

Allergic Asthma Diagnosis

A doctor can diagnose asthma and confirm that you have allergic asthma, usually after a spirometry or peak flow reading. Allergy tests can determine what you are allergic to. However, you may get a possible diagnosis after talking to a doctor about your symptoms.

If you do get a presumptive diagnosis of allergic asthma, you may still want to follow up with an allergist to find out which allergen or allergens may be triggering your asthma attacks. Our doctors can evaluate your asthma symptoms online and determine an initial diagnosis, so that you can begin treatment.

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Allergic Asthma Treatment

Allergic Asthma Medication

While many medications are available to treat asthma or allergies, there are a handful of treatments that tackle both allergies and asthma. Here are some of the medications that can help you manage allergic asthma:

  • Leukotriene modifier: Montelukast (Singulair) is a daily pill (available by prescription only) that helps treat both allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing by helping to control immune system chemicals released during an allergic reaction.
  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy): Getting regular injections of a tiny amount of the allergens that trigger your symptoms can help your immune system build up a tolerance to the allergens over time, eventually reducing your symptoms.
  • Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy: Omalizumab (Xolair) interferes with IgE (antibodies that attack the allergen as if it is a virus or bacteria), which helps prevent the allergic reaction that triggers an asthma attack. Xolair is available by prescription only.
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Reducing Your Exposure to Allergens

Avoiding your asthma triggers is a key component of treatment. Here are some tips on how to reduce your exposure to the allergens that are triggering your asthma attacks.

Exposure to pets:

  • Wash your hands immediately after petting animals you are allergic to and wash your clothes right away after you visit a home that has pets.
  • Keep pets outside when possible. If you cannot keep them outdoors, at least keep them out of your bedroom (and definitely off your bed). You will sleep better if you are not inhaling asthma-triggering pet dander while you sleep.
  • Replace carpet in your home with hard floors. Carpet easily traps pet dander that can trigger your allergies. Additionally, use an air purifier in your bedroom to help get rid of stray dander and fur that may make its way to your room, even if you keep pets out.

Indoor exposure:

  • Limit the amount of mold in your home by keeping the humidity levels low, ideally between 30-50%. Frequently clean your bathroom and other places that tend to grow mold.
  • Reduce your exposure to dust mites by using mite-proof covers for all your bedding.
  • Leave allergy-inducing pollen outside by keeping your windows closed. Use air conditioning in your home and car, instead.

Outdoor exposure:

  • Avoid using window fans. They can suck pollen and other allergens into your home. Stick with the AC instead.
  • If you can, stay indoors when pollen counts are high (usually during the middle of the morning and in the early evening). Also try to avoid going out when the wind is high and blowing pollen around.
  • When you are outside, wear glasses or sunglasses to reduce how much pollen gets in your eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Asthma Be Caused by Allergies?

Yes, asthma symptoms can be triggered by inhaling allergens like pet dander, cigarette smoke, and pollen.

What Does Allergy-Induced Asthma Feel Like?

Different people may have different experiences, but in general, an allergy-induced asthma attack may feel like tightening in the chest, trouble breathing, coughing, and wheezing.

Is Allergic Asthma the Same as Asthma?

All asthma attacks are caused by constriction in the bronchial (or breathing) tubes. This constriction can be caused by an allergy trigger or by a variety of other triggers such as cold air, exercise, infections, stress, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Does Allergic Asthma Go Away?

Generally, allergic asthma does not go away. However, learning how to avoid your allergy triggers may help, as can montelukast (Singulair), a prescription medication you take every day that helps to control immune system chemicals released during an allergic reaction.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Treatment for Allergies and Asthma Online

While it can be extremely helpful to get allergy testing to find out exactly what you are allergic to, you can still get allergic asthma treatment online. Prescription medications can be extremely effective in treating allergic asthma. Our doctors can diagnose your condition online and, if you qualify, prescribe medications to help you manage symptoms.

During a video or phone appointment with one of our licensed doctors, you will talk about your allergies and asthma symptoms as well as your medical history and any medications you take. The doctor will work with you to discuss treatment options. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter treatments or, if it is appropriate for you, send an electronic prescription to your nearest pharmacy.

Book an online appointment with one of our doctors to learn more.


Read More About Allergies and Asthma


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

American Academy of Allergy Asthma, & Immunology. Allergic Asthma Definition. Accessed on April 8, 2021 at https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-dictionary/allergic-asthma

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergens and Allergic Asthma. Accessed on April 8, 2021 at https://www.aafa.org/allergic-asthma/

Mayo Clinic. Allergies and Asthma: They Often Occur Together. Accessed on April 8, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/in-depth/allergies-and-asthma/art-20047458

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Allergic Asthma. Accessed on April 8, 2021 at https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/allergic-asthma/

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